Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Dragged, Beaten, and Robbed, Part III

Kate Parry, Reader's Representative of the Star Tribune, responded to my complaint about the use of the word "fight" to describe the beating and robbery of a 15 year-old boy:

Dear Mr. Swanson,
The lead of the story uses the word "attack." Further down, the words "dragged," "beaten," and "robbed are used. The story says "He was punched, stomped and kicked in the face before he fled for help..." Finally, in the last paragraph, which is a recounting of Metro Transit policy rather than the individual incident, the word "fights" is used to decribe a broad range of altercations.
I don't think there could be any doubt in a reader's mind after finishing that story just want happened.

Kate Parry
Reader's Representative

I wrote back:

Dear Ms. Parry,

You missed the point. A policy of not intervening in "fights" can make
sense. A policy of not intervening in attacks and beatings does not. Why
quote a policy on fights, unless you think that is what happened in this

This is also the second time the reporter has referenced the policy on
intervening in "fights."

If the Metro Transit manual does not distinguish between fights and
beatings, that is a story your newspaper should pursue. If the reporter was
just sloppy in writing/reporting, you should admit the mistake.

There is a difference between being a readers' representative/ombudsman and
being an apologist.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good work Swanny. Keep them bastages honest. I'm sure if the readers rep ever rode on mass transit through North Minneapolis she would understand why this is an issue.

June 01, 2005 4:05 PM  
Blogger Rambix said...

Nice work! Next time ask Ms. Parry if she'd be willing to ride the same line as the young man who was mugged. Maybe she could do it for a week straight. She just might get into some fights, no?


June 02, 2005 10:24 PM  

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